Sunday, January 28

Joint Discussion: White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bacht

Hello all! Blodeuedd and I will be discussing "White Chrysanthemum" by Mary Lynn Bracht. Blodeudd is in red and I am in blue.  
Author: Mary Lynn Bracht
Title: White Chrysanthemum
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: ebook
Being Published: Jan 30, 2018 
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Netgalley)

In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.

South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?

Ok, so let us begin.


At least we picked a book we can discuss, even if it had faults. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with the Dual POV. Which sucked sooooooooo much. It did not work at all. It ruined parts of the book and made the good parts not as good and took away attention from Hana’s story. It made it not as...oh what to say. It should have been sadder, and now it was not.
The two POVs did clash. I felt it took away from the mystery. Either Hanna is dead or just never came back home for whatever reason. It took away from Hanna’s story the most. I didn’t mind Emi’s POV. But maybe save it for the end. Put it in two chapters or something. IDK. 

 Yes! A prologue and an epilogue. And in between that is Hana’s story. Her full story. Now we got ripped away and I honestly think we did not see as much as we should have. Her time in Manchuria was really short and we never even met that many other women. I want my heart to bleed. Yes there were horrible things, but then came an Emi POV and things moved on. I feel horrible saying it, but more horrible things. Awful things happened and it should have talked about. Instead we barely see anything before she gets “rescued”. All because half the book is about Emi in 2011 going to demonstrations.

Agreed. The 2011 POV made the horrible things in the 40’s feel less horrible because you know it will end. Those who know the horrors fight for their justice. Yes, I was horrified at what was happening the Hanna and the women around her, but I knew it was going to be okay because the war does end and people fight for their justice and demand Japan apologies in some way. 

I did not think about it in that way, but yes that makes sense. I mean we all know the war ended, but when I am engrossed in a book I do not know. I only know the moment. I do not know what will happen. Now I knew Emi had looked for her sister all her life. And that they wanted Japan to be sorry. But I do not want to know that! I want to be there in the moment. I want to cry for the little girls. Feel anger. Feel anything. I do not want a note at the end about how rape happens in every war blah blah blah. Make me feel instead.

Honestly, I felt bad for Hanna and I was horrified at how one human can treat another. However, I did not cry like I wanted to. I wanted to hurry up and read and see if Hanna makes it. I wanted to cheer for every small victory she would get and feel her pain when she was being hurt. I didn’t though. I already knew she was either dead or could never come home for whatever reason. 

Yes, dead or too broken to come home. But how I wanted to cry, but did not. I felt this book could have been so much better if Hana’s story had been in focus. I know I would have cried then. But now it was more like the author tried to spare us the details and the hurt. Do not spare us. Make us cry instead. [BEGINNING OF SPOILER]Also….did she die? I honestly do not know with that ending. Should be put it in a spoiler cos wtf, I do not know.

LOL I was going to ask you. Ummm...from what I got she lived, but she never came home and prolly died of old age. Someone made a statue of her? I was confused because it seemed like Emi saw her and was talking to her. But then she was young and not real. My guess is that Hanna DID live with that guy who saved her and she had a nice HEA while Emi was in a world full of guilt and had a shitty hubbie. WHICH is not nice. Not nice at all to do to your family. I get being too broken to come home...but for real...write or something, “HEY YA’LL I AM SAFE. DON’T COME FIND ME AND WASTE YEARS OF YOUR LIFE DOING IT! HOLLA!” Just...rude of her honestly. 

Damn it, I hate endings like this. I came to the end and was all what? My theory is that is drowned herself. She did go into the water and was not heard from again. The pic of her was found by those girls she spoke too as Mori dropped it and therefore a statue was made that Emi saw. But sure if she did survive what a shitty thing to do. I get that one does not speak about rape, but come on! Think of Emi! At least send a letter every 5 years or something. Thinking that ok so mum and dad will probably burn these, but maybe they will die one day and THEN Emi will read it and know. DO not waste time out there in the middle of nowhere. So...she drowned, that is what I came to see. But I do not know and I hate it.
And yes Emis life was shit too.

I had that theory too. [END OF SPOILER] I honestly really don’t know. It bugs me that there really was no 100% clear answer. I was hoping that Emi had a good life from Hanna’s sacrifice...but nope. Crappy red-hating man who worked for the government to get rid of commies or anyone who sympathized with them. Emi lived with such guilt, because let’s be real...the mom blamed Emi for sure. That mom LOVED Hanna. The Dad was just sad and whatnot, but the mom SO SO blamed Emi. 

And then at the end when Emi was old and died too from old age. Seriously, I get that people die, but I wanted someone to be happy!

This did not end happy. It ended oddly and I am still scratching my head on what really happened. Sad and confused was what I felt when I was done reading. 

Not a good feeling and that is why it just got an okay grade from me :(

Yeeep same here. But! I am in awe of the character that first “saves” Hanna. That soldier...I don’t understand him. I feel like he was the best character and I want to know more about that baddie. Like if he didn’t rape her and beat her when she tried to escape him...I think I could’ve honestly liked him. LOL I felt a hair bad for him. I think he was insane after what the Americans did to his family. 

Omg. Yes! He was the best. Ok so I wanted to stab him with a rusty spoon since he raped and beat her. But he was the most interesting character. And I felt it was so brushed over. My family was died in a prison camp in the US. And I clearly went insane and think you are a mermaid made for me. BUT Japan is baaaad. That is all I learned from this book. Japan is evil. SO very evil.

Yesss. I wanted him to be a good guy. Apologize for the first rape and say that maybe he was forced or something. Save her and they live HEA. That was what I wanted, but then he raped her more and more after he found her at that brothel. I don’t know. But I was intrigued about that insane character. I wanted ONE glimmer of hope for Japan. Showing that not every man there is a rapist and killer. This book really did make Japan look evil and should burn. I wanted one person to be like, “HEY! WE ARE NOT ALL BAD!” Everyone is guilty during war for horrible things. Look at the US, they pretty much killed that guy’s family in the detention centers. 

.Yup, all I learned is that everyone are rapists. Except for that poor Geisha. Put in at least one good person, ok so there was the Geisha, but one good man then. One man that looks away. Just one guy. Come on. And I wish she had not made Morimoto so creepy, make him insane, and better because I sadly wanted to like him too. He was interesting. 

Ooo I forgot all about that Geisha. She was good, but she didn’t really leave any huge impression on me. I wanted one man in the army to look away or show some sort of kindness. Giving that little girl a pass and not taking her to whoever to rape her. Take one of the older girls. Just something. Yes, I get the author wanted to drive home the fact that these men did horrible things to women because they could. They did. Let’s not sugarcoat it….but there HAD to be one person with a heart. Just one. At first, I thought Morimoto would be. He seemed like he didn’t want to rape her at first. He tried to be gentle. I had hope for him, but then next we see him...he’s a creepy, insane person who “loves” Hana. 

Oh yes, and he claims he loves her but then leaves her in a brothel to be raped daily. Sure, that works with your honor. It so does not. I am starting to feel the author hates the Japanese and shows it here. Maybe some deeprooted hate. Cos I did read this book set in Poland recently and a Nazi gave freaking potatoes to Jewish kids. See, there can be decent people on both sides. Everything is not black and white. There is a lot of gray.

Yesss I agree. She wanted us to hate them to evoke more emotion and make us angry. However, showing that one glimmer of kindness DOES make us hate the bad ones even more. At least...that is what happens to me when I see that. It makes me angry because why can’t they be like that guy? But yes, she did seem to not care for the Japanese…

I am not going to analyze too much, and maybe she did not mean it like that. But I felt like that. Like she wrote it like that and who cares if Japan got bombed. They are evil anyway. I really got the worst caricature pics in my head how they are all monsters. And like you say, if there is one guy looking the other way then yes I would hate the bad ones even more. Now I just felt ill at ease to be honest.

But yeah...I really feel like this had great potential and it was not as good as I thought it was going to be. I did enjoy it for what it was. I enjoyed watching the characters go through their lives. However, it did not impact me as much as it did other readers. I read other reviews and it makes me sad that I didn’t enjoy AS much as they did. 

Same, everyone was loving it and then I felt empty at the end. Yes I enjoyed it, but then I started to analyze and felt letdown. But at least we had lots to discuss!!! That was great. Since some books just leave us meh and nothing to even say. So wohoo, for a great book to discuss.

Lots to talk about. This was good. Just needed an edit. Move the POV or change it. I think that was the biggest issue for me honestly. 

Definitely,  the POv was my biggest issue too. Dual POvs are hard and here it failed.

Agreed, agreed. Super bummer. This would make a good movie I think. The duo POV would work better there. 

Eh, less Emi please or more Emi throughout her life. Present day could have been shorter.

Mmmmm….I think that is all I got. LOL

Good discussion then! I am happy. I might not have loved the book, but that does not matter when there is lots to discuss. So it is your turn next, choose wisely ;)

Wahhhh! I always get scared when it is my turn! My last one was a super flop. 
The end?

The end

About the Authors
Carole and Blodeuedd have been blogging a long while now. The last couple of years the epic duo have been discussing books, watching movies, and even wetting the pen and sharing their stories with the worldwide web. They both love cats, chocolate, and a good story.


Blodeuedd said...

Ack, I wonder what's next ;)

Carole Rae said...

LOL I need to think of some stuff.